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Signs Supplement - The Suicide Bombing Cycle

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There seems to be a familiar story relating to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict - see if you can recognise the pattern of:

(1) peace talks/Israeli instability/international pressure on Israel

(2) a suicide bombing

(3) some sort of Israeli action

(4) abandoning of the "peace process" at step (1)

It seems that as soon as some talk of peace or withdrawing West Bank settlers is mentioned, some sort of hostilities take place in this troubled zone.

The following list was mainly compiled using the Guardians excellent Middle East time line available here. It makes for some of the most depressing reading on the web.


January 3 2003
It emerges that Ariel Sharon's Likud party has suffered a sharp drop in support during a corruption and organised crime scandal that has touched senior politicians, including Mr Sharon's son

January 5 2003
A dual suicide bombing in the heart of Tel Aviv kills 25 people, including the two bombers. Many of the victims were migrant workers from Africa, eastern Europe and the Philippines. The slaughter ends a six week lull in attacks on Israel and comes just three weeks before a general election.

January 6 2003
Palestinian officials are barred by Israel from attending a meeting in London to discuss progress towards an independent state. The travel ban was imposed by the Israeli cabinet in direct response to the previous day's suicide bombings.


March 19 2003
Mahmoud Abbas officially accepts Yasser Arafat's offer of the post of Palestinian prime minister. He is expected to be sworn in after he selects a new cabinet, when the US will publish its long-awaited peace plan.

March 30 2003
A suicide bomber blows himself up in the Israeli coastal town of Netanya, injuring 58 people. The attack, marking Palestinian 'Land Day', is the first suicide bombing in Israel since the start of the war in Iraq.

April 2 2003
Israeli forces launch two days of raids on occupied Palestinian territories, killing six Palestinians, including a 14-year-old, and detaining more than 1,000 boys and men.

APRIL 2003

April 23 2003
Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian prime minister-delegate, Mahmoud Abbas, finally agree on the composition of the new Palestinian cabinet after frantic last-minute negotiations. In response to the move, the US indicates that it will publish its long-awaited road map for peace some time next week. Meanwhile, a Palestinian suicide bomber blows himself up at a crowded railway station in central Israel, killing a security guard who tried to prevent him from entering the building.

April 30 2003
The US releases its long-awaited road map for peace to Israeli and Palestinian leaders hours after the new Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, known as Abu Mazen, and his cabinet are sworn in. But, on the same day that Mr Abbas pledges to take the first step on the road map by cracking down on Palestinian terrorists, a suicide bombing at a bar in Tel Aviv kills three Israelis. Hamas and al-Aqsa claim joint responsibility, but Israeli police say that the suicide bomber and his accomplice, who escaped unharmed, were British.

MAY 2003

May 10 2003
US secretary of state Colin Powell arrives in Israel for talks with Ariel Sharon and Abu Mazen on the US-backed road map to peace.

May 17 2003
Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, meets his Palestinian counterpart, Abu Mazen, in Jerusalem, for three hours of talks. A suicide bomber kills an Israeli man and his pregnant wife in Hebron.

May 18 2003
A suicide bomber disguised as an Orthodox Jew blows up an Israeli bus in Jerusalem, killing seven passengers.
Sharon calls off his US visit.

May 19 2003
A suicide bomber kills two people in a shopping centre in Afula, Israel.

JUNE 2003

June 4 2003
The summit meeting between Ariel Sharon, Abu Mazen and the US president, George Bush, convenes in Aqaba, Jordan. Sharon pledges to support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Abu Mazen says: "The armed intifada must end." Fearing the road map will spell the end of illegal settlements on Palestinian land, thousands of Israeli settlers protest in Jerusalem.

June 10 2003
Israel draws stinging criticism from Washington, accusations of terrorism from its Palestinian partner in the peace process and a vow by Hamas to respond in kind after an army helicopter tried to assassinate the Hamas political leader in Gaza.

June 11 2003
A teenage suicide bomber dressed as an Orthodox Jew kills 16 people on a rush-hour bus in the heart of Jerusalem, fulfilling a vow by the militant Islamist movement Hamas to avenge a botched Israeli attempt to assassinate itspolitical leader a day earlier.

June 13 2003
Israeli helicopter gunships fire three missiles at a car, killing one person and wounding 22, including seven children.
Israeli gunships fire on car in Gaza


August 18 2003
A deal for Israel to pull troops out of four West Bank cities is expected to be finalised in a move to bolster a six-week-old ceasefire threatened by renewed violence.

August 19 2003
A Palestinian suicide bomber blows apart a bus in the heart of Jerusalem, killing at least 20 people, including children, wounding more than 100 and inflicting the most serious blow yet to the six-week-old ceasefire.

August 21 2003
Palestinian militant groups call off their ceasefire after Israel launches a helicopter strike in Gaza. Three people, including Ismail Abu Shanab, a political leader of Hamas, are killed.

September 1 2003
Israeli helicopters kill a Hamas activist, wound a second and injure 25 bystanders in a missile attack on Gaza City.
Missile kills Hamas activist

Early JANUARY 2004

January 13 2004
The Israeli government announces that it expects to begin withdrawing from parts of the occupied territories and redefining their borders to create an emasculated Palestinian state if there is no progress towards a negotiated peace settlement

January 14 2004
A 22-year-old Palestinian mother of two small children, pretending to be disabled, kills four Israelis at a Gaza border crossing after duping soldiers into allowing her a personal security check rather than going through a metal detector.
Human-bomb mother kills four Israelis at Gaza checkpoint

January 20 2004
The Israeli air force bombs Hizbullah targets in southern Lebanon in retaliation for the killing of a soldier in a missile attack on Israel's northern border.
Israel hits back after army death

Late JANUARY 2004

January 21 2004
Opposition politicians in Israel demand the resignation of the country's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, after a businessman is indicted in a Tel Aviv court for allegedly bribing him. The call comes as justice ministry officials say prosecutors are considering whether to charge Mr Sharon along with his son, Gilad, and his deputy, Ehud Olmert.

January 23 2004
An 11-year-old Palestinian boy is killed and two other youths wounded by Israeli soldiers in a highly sensitive area close to the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

January 28 2004
At least 13 Palestinians are killed, according to Israel's army radio, in the deadliest clashes in the Gaza Strip for over a month. Palestinian medics say they have unconfirmed reports of bodies as yet unrecovered from the streets of a militant stronghold near Gaza City.

January 29 2004
At least ten people are killed and another 50 wounded in a suicide attack on a bus outside Ariel Sharon's official residence in Jerusalem. The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claims responsibility, but the attack fails to derail a prisoner swap in which Israel begins freeing 436 of the 7,000 Palestinian detainees it holds in exchange for an abducted Israeli businessman and the bodies of three dead soldiers.


February 18 2004
The International Committee of the Red Cross calls on Israel to halt construction of the steel and concrete "security fence" through the West Bank because it breaches international law and is causing widespread harm to Palestinians.

February 22 2004
Suicide bomber murders eight people on a rush hour bus in Jerusalem.

February 23 2004
Israeli troops fire tear gas at Palestinians protesting at the barrier being constructed in the West Bank as a court case on its legality opens in The Hague.

February 26 2004
Demonstrations over West Bank wall claim first victims as seizures belie Sharon's pledge to abandon settlements.
Israelis kill two villagers in barrier protests

February 27 2004
Israel is seizing Palestinian land in Gaza to expand one of the most controversial Jewish settlements three weeks after Ariel Sharon said he intended to remove all settlers from the territory.

MARCH 2004

March 2 2004
The Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, is backing a total withdrawal of Israeli settlers and soldiers from the Palestinian Gaza Strip, according to a well-placed Israeli source.

March 14 2004
Ten people are killed when two Palestinians from Gaza blow themselves up in the Israeli port of Ashdod, prompting the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, to cancel his first summit meeting with his Palestinian counterpart, Ahmed Qureia.

March 16 2004
The Israeli military accuses a faction of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement of using an 11-year-old boy as an unwitting human bomb after the child is discovered carrying explosive through an army checkpoint in Nablus.

March 16 2004
Israeli forces launch a new offensive in the Gaza Strip, killing at least six Palestinians and wounding 27 in a series of air strikes. Palestinian security officials say troops had raided a Rafah refugee camp and had demolished seven houses.

JULY 2004

July 9 2004
Palestinians wait for a verdict on the legality of the West Bank barrier from the international court of justice in The Hague.
Palestinians await verdict on barrier

July 10 2004
The world court brands Israel's vast barrier through the West Bank a de facto land grab and tells Israel to tear it down and compensate the victims.

July 11 2004
Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, says the world court's ruling against his country's vast barrier through the West Bank encouraged terrorists, shortly after a bomb at a Tel Aviv bus stop killed a young woman.


18th August 2004
Mr Sharon needs one vote to bolster his coalition after right-wing parties withdrew support over the proposal to evacuate all 21 settlements in Gaza and four in the West Bank.

30th August 2004
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told senior cabinet ministers on Monday that he wants to evacuate all Gaza settlements at one time instead of in three stages, officials said, reflecting a major shift in position.

31st August 2004
Palestinian suicide bombers killed at least 15 people in simultaneous attacks on two Israeli buses yesterday, ending a six-month lull in such violence and potentially disrupting an Israeli plan to pull out of Gaza.

1st September 2004
Israel plans to resume its campaign to assassinate Hamas leaders in response to back-to-back suicide bombings by a Palestinian militant group that killed 16 people, security sources say.

The drive to hit Hamas's upper echelon had been put on hold in recent weeks while the army targeted militants carrying out rocket attacks in southern Israel, the sources said.


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